"When Women Rule the World"

On a new "reality" series set to premiere in March, "women command and men obey." But if females were in charge, this silly TV show would never air.

By Catherine Price

Published December 11, 2007 2:50PM (EST)

As the writers' strike drags on and we're threatened with the prospect of even more unscripted reality television, I want to call formal attention to a new show coming your way on Fox in March 2008: "When Women Rule the World." We've mentioned it briefly before, but a reader just realerted us to Fox's press release, and since its premiere is getting closer and I'm getting increasingly worried that there will be nothing else on television, I can't help bringing it up.

For those of you who don't already know the basic premise, it's quite simple. A group of men and women get taken to a "remote, primitive location" where the women "will have the opportunity to 'rule' as they build a newly formed society -- one in which there is no glass ceiling and no dressing up to impress," says the press release. "In order to win, the men must accede to the women's every demand, 24/7. Here, women command and men obey."

The goal of the show is presumably to see what things would be like if it were, quoting the press release again, "a woman's world" -- where "woman's world" is defined as a place where women make "ALL the decisions" and men are their "obedient subjects." The show will provide answers to pressing questions, including "How will the men react?" and "How will the women treat the men?"

I haven't even dealt with the crazy part of the press release yet and already I don't know where to begin. Let's see. By insinuating that this topsy-turvy women-in-command world is the opposite of what we've got now, the show implies that our current world is one in which women are completely subservient to men. Um, right. There are still inequalities out there, don't get me wrong, but American women are not actually treated like slaves, which seems to be what the premise of this show is suggesting. (Can you even imagine what the reaction would be like, understandably, if someone tried to make this show about race instead of gender?) Also, the question of how the men will react and how the women will treat them seems pretty obvious. The men are not going to be happy, because no one is happy when they are treated like crap. And the women probably aren't going to treat them very well -- not because they're women but because humans don't tend to be nice to people whom they're taught to treat as inferior. (Does anyone else remember that blue eye/brown eye experiment that's brought up in freshman psychology classes?)

But I digress. The press release hardly stops there. It says that the show will explore questions like, "Can women effectively rule society? Will the men learn what life is like for some women in today's world? Will this new society be a Utopia or a hell on earth? And in the end, who will be man enough to succeed in the new social order?"

Now, mind you, I'm aware that this is a crappy reality television show. But how can anyone write that sort of press release and not expect people to roll their eyes? I mean, come on:

1. It seems a bit difficult to extrapolate whether women can effectively rule society by how they behave on a reality television show based in a "primitive, remote location" and populated by women who have "personal axe[s] to grind." That's like taking a bunch of male jerks to a beach, presenting them with a group of women in bikinis who have been instructed to obey their every command and seeing whether they ask the women to be their business partners.

2. Sure, men will learn what life is like for some women in today's world -- you know, those women who are also stuck in primitive, remote locations on a yet unpitched reality show called "When Men Rule the World."

3. Re: Utopia or hell on earth. Considering the fact that it's reality TV, I'm going to have to go with the latter.

4. Last, who will be "man" enough to succeed in the new social order? Are we talking about the men or the women here? I'm sorry -- I'm having trouble parsing it through the sexist use of gendered clichés.

I'm not surprised by the stupidity of this show -- I mean, it's from the makers of "Temptation Island," after all (the ironically named Rocket Science Laboratories, in case you were wondering). And I'm sure it'll be entertaining in the same inane way as most reality TV. But it's annoying that this show is trying to pass itself off as something that might answer serious questions. The problem is that a show that tried to actually create reverse sexism would be both boring to watch because of its subtleties and impossible to create. So instead we're going to be left with this, another gem from the makers of "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy." Here's hoping that the writers' strike gets resolved soon.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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